Getting the flu during the apocalypse

A little while ago, I dropped off the face of the earth for a couple of weeks — not because I’ve been on holidays or anything (I wish I had been, though), but because I was off battling the flu. The actual, legit flu, and not just a really bad cold.
Yay me, I’m now part of this year’s flu statistics! Huzzah. The flu has been super bad this year, and the epicentre of it seems to be my city (well, the epicentre of the flu in my province, anyway). Which is fantastic and all that. I mean, having the flu sucked, but at least I managed to stay out of the hospital.
But! As I lay in bed for those two weeks, feeling like death, I thought to myself: this is all well and good now, when the worst thing I have to do is ferry my kids to and from and school (and to all of their extracurriculars because sadly, moms still don’t get sick days), but what if this happened during the apocalypse? Or during the post-apocalypse? (I’m assuming a sudden apocalypse here, like a zombie apocalypse or an alien invasion or the robot apocalypse or something, not this slow descent into madness that we’re currently living.) How will you run away from zombies when you can barely lift your head off the pillow?
Let’s face it: as much as I’m constantly told that the flu is “no big deal” and it will “beef up my kids’ immune systems” (this is almost always told to me by a mom who thinks it’s no big deal to send her kids to school WITH THE FLU), the flu is no joke. The flu actually kills people, which is pretty evident during this year’s flu season. (And, in fact, a lab-confirmed case of the flu once sent my otherwise healthy oldest child to the ICU. The ICU, you guys. In an ambulance. When she deteriorated, she deteriorated fast.)
Unlike having a cold, the flu can — and does — take people right out of commission. You can’t eat, your entire body aches, you have a super high fever, you can barely sit up, let alone run away from zombies…in other words, it’s not an ideal condition to be in when you’re trying to stay alive. And on top of all that, flu season is in the middle of winter, so not only will you be trying to keep down food more substantial than a Premium Plus cracker, you’ll also likely be trying to stay warm when it’s -20° outside. While trying to outrun zombies.
Hopefully zombies get really sluggish in the cold. Because that would be handy.
In any case, it will not be a fun time.
So, what can you do to survive an apocalypse flu? (Unless, of course, the flu causes the apocalypse. That is one hardy virus, so who knows, maybe a mutated strain is the cause of the epidemic that ends up killing us all.) Aside from just not getting the flu (ha), I guess the best thing to do is to hunker down somewhere until the worst of it passes. So, travel with at least one other person, who can watch out for you while you thrash around in a feverish delirium to make sure you don’t become zombie lunch. (It goes without saying that you should actually trust this person.)
Hopefully, you’ll also have packed some of the following in your bug out bag:

  • Cold and flu meds: things like Tylenol Complete, Benylin All in One, Advil Cold and Sinus
  • Cough syrup if you get hit with a horrible cough
  • Cough drops/lozenges. I’m a big fan of Ricola myself, but my husband likes Fisherman’s Friend
  • Kleenex. Lots and lots of Kleenex
  • Extra layers of clothes or blankets, for when you get the chills
  • Water
  • Lipton Chicken Noodle soup, which is the best thing since sliced bread when you’re sick (no, really)
  • Tomato soup in a can, if you don’t like Lipton Chicken Noodle (you monster) (also, if you don’t have access to a stove, this is probably better)
  • A can opener, for your canned soup or beef broth or whatever
  • A thermometer, so you can keep track of how high your fever gets (you know, for funsies)
  • Antibiotics, like azithromycin or amoxicillin, in case you develop complications like bacterial pneumonia or bronchitis
  • Antivirals, like Tamiflu

Hopefully you won’t have to deal with this, but if you do, I hope you’ve got a trusted friend or family member travelling with you to keep you safe from zombies and winter weather and to help nurse you back to health.
Also, if it’s winter, hopefully you haven’t actually gone anywhere and you’re hunkering down at home, where there is a bed. And walls. There may not be any heat or running water, but at least you’ll have walls and a roof.
Um, I hope.

The Apocalypse of the Mind

Surviving the Apocalypse will probably be the most stressful thing you ever do. Considering that many of us (your fair writer included) already have mental health issues when we live in a developed country with clean water, regular food access, and life-saving medicine, what on earth are we to do when everything is on fire and the zombies are at the gate?
Well, the standard advice for managing mental health issues is even more important when everyone you love has died in front of you.

Talk about it:

Reach out to whatever community you have around you, whether that be your fellow mutants, your pet radioactive cats, or actual people (lucky!). Talk about your feelings, good and bad, and work out ways to manage them – together. A therapist or counsellor would be excellent, but since they’re all dead consider drawing a face on a sack of live rats and talking to that instead.

Eat healthy:

Alright, so you’re probably pretty limited on your diet right now, but do your best. Don’t just eat the canned beans – add some freeze-dried fruit and some mysterious green stuff from the cave walls to your diet, too. Your brain needs a balanced diet!

Try journalling:

There’s nothing like twenty pages of ‘Kill them all’ to express your feelings of furious, broken rage. If you don’t have paper, write it on walls in the blood of your enemies. Bonus: It scares off FUTURE enemies!

Get some exercise: 

Death fights in the cage will increase your adrenaline and help your poor tormented mind pump out serotonin. Plus, the rush that comes with surviving another day might block out all those terrible memories for an hour or two.

Don’t be ashamed to try medication:

Ok, so you might not have access to a psychiatrist or even a GP any more, but that glowing stuff that grows by the wasted river has to have some kind of effect, right? Right?

Meditation works wonders:

Block out the noise of screaming and gunfire and take deep breaths, imagining yourself in a peaceful natural scene that no longer exists anywhere.

Learn to self-soothe:

Lying under a bed with your fingers in your ears chanting ‘everything’s fine, everything’s fine’ might not be the healthiest activity but whatever keeps you going.

Practice self-care:

Self care means taking the time to look after your body, mind, and spirit. Whether it’s organising all your weapons by most kills, going to regular machine-god sacrifices,  or decorating your trophy skulls, be sure to set aside some time and avoid burnout.
 
We hope this helps you with your deteriorating mental state and keeps you alive and with it enough to grimly and stubbornly claw your way through another day.
(please note, this is not actual advice for mental health conditions. Please see your doctor if you feel like you may be depressed, anxious or otherwise mentally unwell. If you are considering suicide, reach out to someone on this list of crisis aids. This article is a work of humor)

Tick tock goes the Armageddon clock: the Doomsday Clock moves forward

ICYMI: Yesterday, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved the Doomsday Clock ahead by thirty seconds, and now it’s two minutes to midnight. Granted, it was 2.5 minutes to midnight before they moved the clock, so while it wasn’t a huge jump forward, it also indicates that globally, there are all sorts of situations that continue to deteriorate. (The decision to move the clock to 2.5 minutes to midnight, which happened in 2017, was in itself an unprecedented move since the clock typically only moves in full minute increments. Basically, things…aren’t great, and they keep getting worse.) (This is not the kind of time traveling I wanted to do.)
This is only the second time that the clock has gotten this close to midnight — the first time was in 1953, after the U.S. and the (then) U.S.S.R both conducted nuclear bomb testing. Comforting, right?
This time, the possibility of nuclear war is again a huge factor in the clock’s jump forward. While there hasn’t been bomb testing lately — at least, not of the kind that are dropped from planes, there has been missile testing. And missiles are basically just self-flying bombs, so there’s that. And aside from the actual weapons themselves, there’s also the fact that “hyperbolic rhetoric and provocative actions…have increased the possibility of nuclear war by accident or miscalculation.”
People have not been playing well in the sandbox lately. Unfortunately, a lot of those people have nuclear weapons. So…yeah.
But the nuclear threat isn’t the only reason the clock is moving forward. The Bulletin also includes the long-term effects of climate change — while increasing temperatures and the accompanying wacky weather and weather-related disasters don’t seem to affect us now, they will in the future. (Though there have been more disasters lately.)
Rapid technological change and emerging technologies is another concern. No, the Bulletin isn’t threatened by technology itself, but in how that technology is used. (So, you know, trying to influence election outcomes and that sort of thing is super not cool.)
And then, of course, there’s the “breakdown in the international order” — there’s concern about the US stepping back from its role as a global leader…and there’s concern about all the finger-pointing and name-calling that’s been going on lately. (See: people in the sandbox.)
The TL;DR version of this is: the Doomsday Clock has jumped forward to 11:58 pm, the closest it’s been to midnight since 1953. We’re inching closer to the apocalypse, and contributing factors are: the global nuclear threat; the continued effects of climate change; technology and the not-cool-use of said technology; and the current WTF nature of international diplomacy.
 

References:

“2018 Doomsday Clock Statement.” The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. January 25, 2018. Accessed January 26, 2018. https://thebulletin.org/2018-doomsday-clock-statement.
 

See also:

Doomsday Clock Statement Press Release: https://thebulletin.org/press-release/it-now-2-minutes-midnight11464
Behind the Design of the Doomsday Clock (The Atlantic): https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/11/doomsday-clock-michael-bierut-design/412936/
What is the Doomsday Clock and why does it matter? (Wired UK): http://www.wired.co.uk/article/what-is-the-doomsday-clock

Being Black in Video Games

Being Black in real life isn’t super easy. Sure you always have company whenever you go shopping, even if you started alone. You’re more likely to have a living will or healthcare proxy (at least you should). Because Black folks are dropping dead like it’s Jim Crow again.
South Park’s new game recently introduced a slider that was labeled “Difficulty” and changed the character’s race. The darker you are the “harder” the difficulty. It’s funny because it’s true.

At least Fractured But Whole lets you be a person of color if you really want to. Or if you just really want to see a person of color as a hero in a video game. Continue reading “Being Black in Video Games”

Likely Apocalypses: Government Collapse

It’s time to look at another likely apocalypse! This month, we’re looking at government collapse.
Let’s be honest — if there’s a likely apocalypse that’s more likely than others, it might be this one. The world is sort of terrifying and terrible right now. And is it just me, or does it seem like the world is a hair trigger away from world nuclear war? (And if it comes to that, I’m pretty sure my country is doomed. We have no nukes, and we live next door to a country that does, but has also said they won’t come to our aid.)

What would an apocalypse by government collapse look like?

Probably nothing good. (I mean, really.) But let’s break it down a bit. For a government collapse to cause a worldwide apocalypse, it would have to be the government of a large, powerful country. It would have to be powerful enough to wreak havoc on the global economy, and would have to be big enough that its collapse would trigger a worldwide threat. So, this would probably mean the collapse of the U.S., the U.K. (maybe?), Germany, Russia, or China. Maybe France. And I think it would have to be more than one government collapsing at the same time. It might be possible for the world to overcome one major power falling apart, but two or even three or more? That’s harder.
Aside: if France or Germany collapse, would that also trigger the collapse of the EU itself? Because that would domino this apocalypse into fast-forward.
Also! I think that, for a government collapse to bring about the apocalypse, it would have to be the total breakdown in the government itself. Like, maybe a Designated Survivor season 1 type of collapse, only without Kiefer Sutherland there to save the day. Not “oh the government is collapsing based on the results of the last election.” Though…I suppose that might be true, in a slow-and-painful-death sort of way. And, of course, I suppose that the population could rise up and there could be a revolution or a coup or something, and a government could collapse because of the people. (If there was a revolution, what would happen after? Anarchy? A puppet government? A military dictatorship? The next Napoleon? The possibilities are seemingly endless!)
In any case, regardless of how it happens, a country’s government would have to fall apart, completely, with chaos and confusion and all that fun stuff. The local currency is devalued (probably), people lose money, there are riots, borders close, people (probably) die. (It doesn’t sound fun.)
And what happens after? Once all the chaos dies down, are we then left with the Hunger Games? Or maybe Incorporated? (That show was cancelled far too soon, by the way.) Or Blade Runner? Or Planet of the Apes if we all end up mutated from radiation?

Is an apocalypse by government collapse likely?

Well. I think it could be. I mean, I think it’s certainly possible. More possible than any of the other likely apocalypses I’ve talked about, with the exception of maybe nuclear war (which, in all likelihood, would be related to a government breakdown).
Let’s face it — the world is a touch unpleasant and scary right now. I think, honestly, that the world going down the road toward anarchy or dystopia is quite possible. Would that be caused by a government collapse (or many governments collapsing)? I don’t know. It could. Or it could be caused by governments hitting red buttons and the world going poof. At this point, anything’s possible, really. But I think that the world is on a very precarious ledge at the moment, and at it could crumble and collapse at any moment.

How can we survive an apocalypse by government collapse?

Um. I don’t know. Go off the grid, maybe? Build an underground bunker? Pray and hope for the best?
Honestly, I don’t know. I think that, whether we like it or not, the government plays such a big role in people’s lives (either directly or indirectly), that there’s just no surefire way to survive a collapse.

Movie Review: LIFE [2017]

LIFE is a dark movie about death. Violent and inevitable death.

Oh, the joys of living on The International Space Station (ISS) with people on earth trying to micromanage your every move but, at the same time, couldn’t help you find your toothbrush.  These scientists are delighted to be living on the ISS answering the questions of elementary school children about where they shit.

Spoilers below. Continue reading “Movie Review: LIFE [2017]”

How'd you even get here? Our Google Questions Answered.

Today I answer the important questions brought to us by our Google search results…

…everything from surviving an apocalypse to styling yourself to look like you survived an apocalypse. Continue reading “How'd you even get here? Our Google Questions Answered.”

Likely Apocalypses: GM Foods

It’s time to look at likely apocalypses again! This time, we’re going to look at the possibility of an apocalypse by genetically modified foods.
Genetically modified, or GM, foods, are pretty well known. Even if most people only have a passing knowledge of GM foods, it seems as if everyone has an opinion. I mean, say “Monsanto” in a crowded room and then sit back and watch the world burn. (But, um, not literally burn.) So, can GM foods really cause an apocalypse? Let’s take a look.

What are GM foods?

GM foods are, in essence, pretty self-explanatory. They’re crop seeds that have been genetically engineered, typically for a particular purpose. (No, that purpose is not to cause zombie food. Well…at least I hope not.) These seeds may grow crops that are more resistant to weather damage, need less pesticides, grow more easily in hard-to-grow environments (like dry soil), or have a higher crop yield. (There are other reasons, and I can’t pretend to even have an inkling of them all, but those are a few.)
I guess you could say that GM foods are crops that are bred for a purpose. Like cross-breeding roses for the perfect shade of red, only with food that people ingest. Okay, okay — to be fair, breeding roses isn’t exactly the same thing. That’s more selective breeding, which has been around for centuries. GM seeds aren’t selectively bred per se; they actually have foreign DNA inserted into them to promote whatever purpose for which they’re being modified.

Are GM foods safe?

Well, this is sort of what’s causing the controversy. There’s currently no evidence that GM foods are harmful or cause health issues/defects/etc, but…there isn’t any evidence that says they aren’t totally safe, either. The absence of harm doesn’t necessarily prove safety, but the lack of proven safety doesn’t necessarily prove harm, either. So…the jury’s still out. Some countries have also banned or restricted the use of GM crops, so make of that what you will.
In the meantime, I guess I’ll just sit here and eat my ripe-for-longer banana. (Kidding; I’m allergic to bananas.)

Can GM foods cause an apocalypse?

Um. I don’t know. I mean, I guess it’s possible, since no one seems to truly know what the long-term effects (if any) are. Is it likely? Well, at the risk of sounding like an indecisive record…I don’t know. Long-term effects and all that. This is one of those things where really, only time will tell. (Though if it does cause an apocalypse, would we be able to recognize it before it’s too late? Hmm…)

What would a GM food-based apocalypse look like?

Who knows! Really, anything is possible, and I’m sure many other people have thought about this. Personally, I think it would be more along the lines of unintended consequences. I have a list of “what if’s” that fall under that. For example, what if a modified strain mutates and stops growing, leading to starvation? Or what if it mutates and ends up poisoning people? What if GM foods end up producing more allergens, or somehow lead to adverse health reactions? Will crops lose their genetic diversity? What if seeds are controlled by one or two corporations, giving them the ability to control the world’s population? (Insert twirly mustache villain here.) Will a reliance on modified food then allow people to weaponize the seeds (think biowarfare)? What if the world ends up relying on GM foods, which leads to only having one or two strains of any single crop, and something goes wrong — like famine or a bug infestation or a disease? Will the altered plant DNA eventually alter human DNA and create plant people? (I know, I know, this one’s unlikely. It would make a fun novel though; someone should get on that.)
So many apocalyptic possibilities.

Sources (and extra reading)

https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2015/02/gmo-foods-what-you-need-to-know/index.htm
https://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Food-technology/Understanding-Genetically-Modified-Foods.aspx
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-truth-about-genetically-modified-food/

Likely Apocalypses: Religious Apocalypse

So far in our list of possible apocalypses, we’ve looked at worldwide nuclear war, environmental disaster, the zombie apocalypse, and a robot apocalypse in more detail. Now, let’s take a look at the possibility of a religious apocalypse.
Okay, to be honest, a religious apocalypse seems pretty unlikely. (But if I’m wrong and god rains hellfire on us, then it’s probably also not survivable. Sorry about that.) Sure, there always seem to be a few people telling everyone and their dog that the Rapture is on its way and we’re in the End Times (and don’t forget the “Mayan Apocalypse” of 2012!), but apocalypse by deity is, at this time, not the most likely.
That said, nearly every religion speaks about the end of the world – eschatology is included in most holy writings in some way. (And, admittedly, it’s my favorite part of theology…maybe this was why my theology professors were always bemused? Hmm.) Christianity, with its Book of Revelation, probably has the best known religious apocalyptic example. And really, it sounds long, involved, and possibly complicated, what with the Seven Seals and the four horsemen and all that. But most, if not all, religions include something about the End Times in their books/texts/teachings. Even “ancient” religions (I use quotation marks because reconstructionists are bringing some of those religions back to life), speak about the end of the world. See: Ragnarok.
Regardless of what the religious texts claim will happen afterwards (a new and better world where there’s actual, honest to god world peace, for example), the end result is always the same: the world as we know it will end. Maybe God/the gods and goddesses/the Goddess/Source/the Universe/what have you just gets tired of watching us doom ourselves and steps in with the reset button. Who knows?

What could it look like?

Who knows! (I’m being serious.) Religions do talk about the end times, but they don’t always agree on what will bring about the end of the world. Now, I’m not well-versed in a lot of other religions, so what I know of their eschatology is based on Internet research. But, a quick Google search gives me a worldwide flood, a river of molten metal, demons, the Antichrist, a Judgement Day (no, not that Judgment Day), the degeneration of society (hmm…), and the appearance of seven suns in the sky. And those aren’t even all of the possibilities.
So really, when talking about specifics, no one actually knows what a religious apocalypse could look like. What we do know is that there will be doom and despair and destruction.
Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

Could a religious apocalypse actually happen?

Well, if there are deities out there watching us (and the end times haven’t started yet), I suppose there’s a possibility that they’ll throw up their hands in defeat and hit the reset button on human civilization because have you looked at us lately? We haven’t exactly been the models of modern major generals paragons of peace and love and kindness and friendship and all of those other general good things.
Okay, I suppose anything is possible. But I think it’s more likely that the gods will just abandon this sinking ship and pretend it never happened, so a religious apocalypse will probably not be a thing.
But if I’m wrong, I’m sorry. And if you find yourself sitting in a lovely handbasket during the end of the world, save a spot for me, will you?

What can we do to survive a religious apocalypse?

Repent, ye sinners. Or pray. Actually, I don’t know.
 
 

Likely Apocalypses: Robotic Apocalypse

Of all the likely apocalypses, the Robotic Apocalypse is one of the most unsettling.

The Replicators in Stargate were one of the most formidable enemies for any intelligent species because they cannot be reasoned with or stopped without completely changing your way of life to one that eradicates any metal components. You can’t drive or fly away because they take every piece of metal and MAKE MORE REPLACTORS. Their only objective is to reproduce, consequences be damned. Continue reading “Likely Apocalypses: Robotic Apocalypse”